October 2, 2014 / 11:01 PM / 5 years ago

UK cost agency NICE rejects another Roche cancer drug

LONDON, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Another new cancer drug from Roche , this time for treating leukaemia, has been rejected by Britain’s healthcare cost-effectiveness agency NICE on the grounds that data about its value is uncertain.

In August the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) rejected the Swiss drugmaker’s drug Kadcyla for an aggressive form of breast cancer. Roche had proposed a discount for that drug, which carries a full list price of more than 90,000 pounds for a course of treatment.

Friday’s decision promises to further sour relations between NICE and the world’s biggest maker of cancer drugs, which two months ago said NICE was “not fit for purpose”.

The panel decides which treatments are worth using in the state-run National Health Service (NHS) and its latest preliminary guidance covers obinutuzumab, marketed by Roche as Gazyvaro, for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.

“Although obinutuzumab is a clinically effective treatment, there were too many uncertainties in the company’s submission and we cannot be confident that it is an effective use of NHS resources,” said NICE’s chief executive, Andrew Dillon.

“With limited resources we need to ensure that each treatment we recommend gives patients not only the best care but is also of the best value to the NHS.”

There is growing pressure on drug companies over the high cost of medicines in both Europe and the United States. Cost is particularly controversial in cancer, where new treatments offering hope to patients come at a very high price.

Roche, whose new leukaemia drug is priced at 26,496 pounds ($42,850) for a course of treatment, said it was disappointed by the latest NICE decision but would be working with the agency to find a way to make it available. (1 US dollar = 0.6184 British pounds) (Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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